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Giovanni Pernice Born to Win review: Shirts optional for feisty night with Strictly star

PUBLISHED: 16:48 21 June 2018 | UPDATED: 16:52 21 June 2018

Giovanni Pernice and Luba Mushtuk star in Born To Win. Picture: THE STRICTLY THEATRE CO

Giovanni Pernice and Luba Mushtuk star in Born To Win. Picture: THE STRICTLY THEATRE CO

Courtesy of Strictly Theatre Co.

A feisty Felixstowe audience gave Giovanni Pernice a little more than he bargained for on Wednesday as he brought his Born to Win tour to the Spa Pavilion.

The auditorium was already buzzing when the Italian stallion - his words - first took the stage and made it clear he was happy to play the sex appeal card. The crowd made it clear they were happy to play too. What followed was a masterclass in charm as he proceeded to wow everyone with his moves, his humour, his stories and, let’s be honest, his chest.

Actually named for a tattoo on his arm, the new show follows the story of his life from birth to Strictly Come Dancing professional, via the awkward adolescent years - please never dress like that again - his first love and a few different countries.

Backed by seven other professional dancers, he opened the show with an elegant ballroom routine before gyrating his way through a saucy Latin number to Ain’t No Other Man. There was also a high energy jive to music from Hairspray, a hop to Spain for the paso doble, some fantastic raunchy routines set to music from Chicago and an emotional rumba with his partner for the night, and new Strictly professional, Luba Mushtuk. Plus lots more.

At one point, members of the by-now-slightly-feverish audience were invited on stage for a “meal” - but the performers didn’t know what they had unleashed. The song was Whatever Will Be Will Be, and apparently what will be is chaos and a little light fondling.

For all that, Giovanni seemed to be having a wonderful time and it was almost like we had simply joined him for a night out on the town, shirts optional.

The performance was not without its faults though. The music transitions were a bit clunky and I felt the pairing with Luba lacked some chemistry. Also, I do wish she would stop looking at the floor - Craig Revel Horwood won’t stand for that.

Nevertheless, it was a thoroughly enjoyable night filled with high energy, smooth Italian charm, extremely talented professional dancers and occasional stage pyrotechnics. What’s not to like?

The cast took their bows to a worthy standing ovation and Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody. Well, Giovanni, FYI I’m available.

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